Most people enjoy having trees around their homes, plants in their houses, and nature in general. However, they may not always understand the importance of plants in their everyday lives. From an environmental impact to personal enjoyment, a world without plants would be catastrophic.
To get an idea of why plants are important, it may be helpful to review why they play such a major role.
Importance of Plants for Our Lives
Although there are many ways that you could say plants are important, one key aspect is overall good health. Eating a plant-based diet improves your health and is an important part of a balanced diet. The MD Anderson Cancer Center strongly suggests eating a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables which are all types of plants. You might not necessarily think about plants for their culinary uses but probably at least half of the foods in your diet contain plants in some form.
From salads to desserts and much more, plants are an important and even essential part of our food system. If you didn’t have plants as an option in your diet, then you would mostly be eating meat and have much more limited options. Additionally, most people could also benefit from increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables and reducing meat consumption. Some of the healthiest populations with low levels of chronic diseases follow a mostly vegetarian diet.
Plants also play an aesthetic role in our lives though. Think about the average home and how even a few houseplants can make a big difference. They help to freshen the air and add a nice touch to most rooms. Many plants are versatile and grow well in homes so they are a great way to refresh or add a nice touch to a home without doing a complete remodel. Plants both inside and outside are an enjoyable part of life, even if we don’t always realize their impact.
Finally, plants can help us to be more active. If you have a home with a garden or plants, then you’re probably going to be doing some maintenance. From pruning and weeding, just having plants in the home is going to make you more active. This doesn’t mean that everyone is going to spend hours a week on plant care, but it’s a good way to get some exercise and a type of exercise that most people enjoy.
Importance of Plants in the Environment
It would be impossible to discuss why plants are important without also reviewing their role in the environment. This is what sets earth apart from other planets since it is the only one we know of that can sustain life. Plants are considered essential because of the many ways that they support life. In addition to releasing oxygen in the environment, they absorb carbon dioxide, provide a habitat and food, and regulate the water cycle.
As most people know, plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. What may surprise you to learn though is that plants from the ocean are the ones that provide most of the oxygen we breathe. Phytoplankton is a single-celled plant in the ocean that plays this role. However, terrestrial plants make up additional oxygen and are also important. When considering how to maintain and improve an environment, protecting plants in the ocean as well as on land should be a priority.
One interesting aspect of plants when it comes to their environmental impact is that they can also help to mitigate climate change. One of the biggest environmental concerns today is fossil fuel burning which releases high levels of carbon dioxide. The majority of society is highly reliant on fossil fuels to meet energy needs. This is an area where plants have a large impact. Plants are considered carbon sinks since they can store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Entire ecosystems including tropical rainforests, coral reefs, and wetlands are considered to be important and essential carbon sink ecosystems.
Why are plants important to animals?
Humans and animals are likely equally reliant on plants but animals are much more connected to plants and maybe more affected when plant growth is poor or destroyed. For example, devastating wildfires eliminate shelter and food sources for animals, forcing them to seek out new places to live. In some cases where ecosystems have been destroyed, entire populations of some animal species can be wiped out entirely.
Animals are fairly adaptable but they cannot survive without both shelter and food. Plants usually provide a source of both for animals. For example, deer usually prefer to live in wooded areas. The woods help to protect them from predators and they also have a steady food source. They will venture into other areas if their food supply is scarce but typically prefer to be in more secluded areas. Some species simply can’t sustain themselves without plants
Importance of Plants for Kids
Just like plants play a role in the health of adults, their presence may have more of an effect on kids. Kids need a clean environment to grow up and may struggle with breathing problems when the air quality is poor. Having plants in the area as well as reducing other pollutants may help to keep kids healthier as they grow.
Plants are also a great way to enrich kids learning as they grow. One of the most fun activities done in classrooms around the world is having children grow a plant from a seed. They’ll learn about how plants grow, how to keep them healthy, and also how to take care of them over time. This is a great way to learn biology with a hands-on approach. Other learning approaches can include hiking and identifying native plants, collecting and identifying different leaves, and much more.
Enjoying Plant Life
It may surprise you to learn so much about the importance of plants but their value can’t be overstated. Plants make up an essential part of all areas of life although we may not always realize it. These are just a few areas where plants affect us but there are many more.